The Road Ahead
Volume 116, No. 12December, 2016
As I write these words, the country is still feeling the aftershock of the presidential election, which brought into office someone who many feel is an untested, unstable and unfit leader. I know that some of our members voted for Donald Trump and of course I have to respect the democratic process that both our union and our country believe in and treasure. But there is no doubt in my mind that Trump is not on the side of working people (despite his promises otherwise), and I also feel that he represents a real threat to the diversity that makes up our society. But as hopeless as some of us feel right now, we can’t let that fear paralyze us.
We like to think that society always progresses forward in a straight line. The truth is that there are many dips and curves in the road, including setbacks like this one. It’s going to take everyone’s effort to push back if and when Trump and his administration try to limit our rights and try to poison our democracy. Yes, we will respect the rule of law, but any society is also based on what human beings are willing to put up with. However, we are not going to put up with hatred, malice, fear or intimidation.
Luckily, we have allies all around us. Despite Donald Trump winning the electoral college, a majority of Americans voted for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, which is only the fifth time in our history that the president lost the popular vote. (Previous to Trump, the most recent president to earn this distinction was George W. Bush.) Now is the time to come together and be strong in anticipation of the battles we may face in our defense of our union rights, civil rights and human rights.
Some of you might be thinking that my words sound alarmist or even ridiculous. All I can do is judge Donald Trump by what I consider the hateful way he ran his campaign and see how white supremacists and other members of the “alt right” seem attracted to him. If, somehow, Trump assumes the mantle of the presidency with dignity and reason and respect for all, we will be relieved. Regardless, we have to stand up for what is right. If you see instances of hate speech, intimidation or aggression, call it out, fight back and let us know about it. In the meantime, we’ll continue to do our work as leaders of the American labor movement.
As Richard Trumka, the president of the AFL-CIO, said in a press release after Trump’s victory, “We can never back down from our values. The presence of racism, misogyny and anti-immigrant appeals caused damage in this campaign and we must all try to repair it with inclusion, decency and honesty.” He also said, “America’s labor movement will protect our democracy and safeguard the most vulnerable among us…The work of the labor movement continues with fresh urgency. The change voters cried out for in this campaign can be found by standing together in unions. We are more committed than ever to helping working people win a voice on the job and in our democracy. We will never stop striving to represent everyone, fighting for basic human dignity, expanding our diversity and growing our ranks to give working people a strong, united voice.”
Finally, to end this section with some positive election news, many of the candidates whom Local 802 endorsed on the state level were victorious (see Political Director Chris Carroll’s election analysis). Also, please come to the next Local 802 membership meeting on Dec. 2, where we’ll discuss and analyze the election.
REST IN PEACE, BOB
It is with sad and heavy hearts that we mourn the loss of a visionary artist, union brother and a dear friend, Bob Cranshaw. Bob died on Nov. 2 at the age of 83 after being a member of Local 802 since 1960. He served first as Local 802’s jazz consultant and later as an elected member of the Executive Board. Musicians and music lovers across the country were touched by his mastery of jazz, his musicianship as longtime Sonny Rollins bassist, Sesame Street Band member and Blue Note Records session legend, as well as his ability to both elevate music as a collaborator and enhance the lives of everyone around him. Bob was among the warmest and most supportive musicians we have ever known. His contribution to the music community, his tireless advocacy on behalf of our union and his generous mentorship and willingness to speak out against injustice and exploitation in our industry will not be forgotten. We celebrate and thank a man whose ready smile, artistry, leadership and integrity brought joy and justice to so many in our union, New York City, and beyond. Click here to see our special tribute to Bob.
Local 802 recently negotiated the latest memorandum of agreement covering musicians who perform at the Classic Stage Company, MCC Theatre, The New Group and Vineyard Theatre for their Off Broadway theatrical productions. Separately, the union approved an agreement with the John Engeman Theatre. As always, anytime you’re called to play musical theatre of any kind, please make a confidential call to our Theatre Department at (212) 245-4802 to make sure you’re earning the wages and benefits you deserve.
- Local 802 just published our finances for the first six months of 2016 and the numbers look good: we realized a gain of almost $220,000, partly because of a surprise bequest. See columns by Tom Olcott and Cathy Camiolo on for more.
- As I write these words, I am about to attend a meeting of the International Federation of Musicians (FIM) presidium in Paris. I will be accompanying AFM President Ray Hair, who was recently elected as one of the vice presidents of FIM. The agenda includes a follow-up to the 21st FIM Congress in Reykjavik. Much like an AFM convention, the FIM presidium reviews resolutions and makes recommendations to the FIM Executive Committee. We’re working to expand the global campaign of fair remuneration to musicians for the exploitation of our product on the Internet. We’re also working on the problems musicians face with airline travel, including carrying instruments on airplanes (see our update) and traveling with instruments that contain African ivory, ebony, pernambuco and other special materials.
- I recently met with James Claffey (president of IATSE Local 1), Katherine Shindle (president of Actors’ Equity) and Thomas O’Donnell Jr. (director of the Teamsters division covering movies and theaterical trades). The Theatrical Trades Division of the Teamsters is running a campaign to enter into a master agreement with the Broadway League in the same way that Local 802, Local 1 IATSE and Actors Equity bargain with the League. Currently the Teamsters struggle with having to bargain production by production for our Broadway shows.
- Earlier this fall, I attended a conference of the National Coordinating Committee of Multi-Employer Pension Plans. This was an extremely beneficial conference dealing with the legislative, regulatory and legal developments affecting multi-employer pension plans. Now more than ever, it is immensely important to support and engage with an organization that represents the best interests of multi-employer plans and the participants of these plans, especially on the legislative level.
CONGRATS TO ALLEGRO
This year, Allegro was voted first place for general excellence in New York City, and second in the entire country, in this year’s annual labor journalism contests sponsored by the International Labor Communications Association and its New York affiliate. We should be proud of all the work we do at Local 802 and proud of how we communicate our message. Congratulations to all.
During this holiday season, please remember those who don’t have enough to eat. Bring in donations of non-perishable food to the Local 802 lobby between now and Jan. 13. Contact Laura Fowler at (212) 245-4802 or Lfowler@Local802afm.org for more info.
Share some holiday cheer with your fellow musicians! Local 802 members and their guests are invited to the union’s annual holiday party, on Wednesday, Dec. 14 at 5 p.m. here at Local 802. See you there! Have a wonderful New Year’s and I’ll see you in these pages in 2017!